This year’s city council-approved budget in Roswell, N.M., doesn’t include money for its famed UFO Festival, an event which is as much bread-and-butter for the town as country music is for Nashville or show business is for Los Angeles. The spectacle includes a series of known speakers, lavish alien costume contests, a night parade and a July 4 fireworks show.
Dusty Huckabee, who works at the Roswell UFO Museum and is on the city council, explains that the city of Roswell took control of the event, once under the jurisdiction of the Roswell UFO Museum, and put in up to $150,000 into the museum. But with no visible boost in the annual attendance of 29,000 people, Huckabee is hoping control of the event can return to the private sector.
The Roswell UFO Festival is huge not only to Roswell, but all of Southeastern New Mexico, according to Huckabee. Downtown Roswell went from suffering 48 percent vacancies at the hands of big-box stores to reducing the rate down to less than 3 percent with the help of the festival.
Roswell may be in the business of aliens, but it couldn’t have gotten there without the help of the business people of Roswell and their stories about the strange phenomenon that happened around the city. “The people who came out of the closet to talk about it had lived in Roswell,” says Huckabee, “and they knew they wouldnt be able to stay in business if they didn’t come out talking.” After that, Huckabee says, more stories started to surface, and a UFO culture was born.
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